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For Caribbean Households, Black Cake is So A lot Extra Than a Vacation Dessert

Relating to vacation desserts, it doesn’t get rather more controversial than fruit cake. Typically dismissed due to its dry texture and garish chunks of pink and inexperienced “fruit”, it’s straightforward to brush off the candy as a relic of the previous. That’s, except you’ve tried Black Cake, a confection hailing from the Caribbean that takes notes from fruit cake and plum puddings, however presents a moister, denser, smoother various. Made with liquor-soaked dried fruits blended right into a clean batter together with a mixture of earthy spices and burnt sugar that provides the cake its signature darkish hue, Black Cake is a labour of affection – many bakers start soaking their fruits in January for the next December!

Neale's Sweet N' Nice Black Cake on a pedestal

© Meals Community Canada
Neale’s Candy N’ Good Black Cake on a pedestal

“For me, Black Cake symbolizes the spirit of Caribbean individuals and islanders,” says Latisha Brown, head baker and product innovator for Neale’s Candy N’ Good, a Canadian dessert firm that’s proudly Caribbean-owned. “It’s believed that Black Cake is developed from British colonizer’s plum pudding – we added dried fruit, spices, and naturally rum, and created one thing particular and distinctive to us.” Regardless of its problematic historical past, Black Cake has been embraced as a logo of the creativity and resourcefulness of Caribbean individuals.

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It’s this very resourcefulness that makes it so particular – Caribbean households have been making their very own variations for generations based mostly on what was out there, whether or not within the Caribbean or overseas. “It’s fairly private for me to recollect my mother buying a slew of dried fruits, inserting them in a jar after which emptying a bottle of rum into the jar and sealing it off,” says Chef Suzanne Barr. “It went into the underside cupboard in our kitchen and would keep there till December rolled round. Then she would begin gathering all the elements to make the Black Cake and the method would start. It’s actually the essence of what I believe has all the things to do with the Caribbean: sluggish, sluggish cooking.” At present, Barr experiments with placing her personal spin on her household’s Black Cake recipe, including spices like star anise and contemporary ginger, baking it in a Bundt pan and even including ornamental touches like gold flakes.

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Each household’s Black Cake is totally different: “from island to island and from residence to residence, the recipe can change. That’s one thing that makes black cake actually particular – individuals take their very own pleasure over it,” says Brown. Whereas Jamaicans sometimes douse their dried fruit with rum, Trinidadians are a fan of sherry wine and additional cherries. Nonetheless, the important ingredient is at all times a beneficiant pour of booze (after which one other, and one other) – Brown recommends including a shot of rum on prime of the cake every day till it’s completed – “Don’t be afraid so as to add extra rum or liquor on prime of your cake after it’s come out of the oven or field – it’s good luck!” she laughs. “It’ll final till New Yr’s, and you may cheers with a slice of cake.”

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As for the right way to serve that Black Cake? When you can actually get pleasure from it plain (most Caribbeans do), Brown likes to serve hers with a beneficiant scoop of Candy N’ Good Rum Raisin Ice Cream: “You don’t know what actual dessert decadence is till you’ve tried this pairing. It’s the proper mixture of fruit, rummy, warming spice.”

Whereas it’s a tad too late to bake your individual Black Cake for this vacation season, Barr has some recommendation for anybody seeking to make one for subsequent yr: “Get began quickly!” she laughs. “No, simply take into consideration the intention that you just wish to put into the cake, whether or not it’s to your first time or have a good friend that basically loves it and also you wish to make one thing particular. Then, be sure to have a protected place in your house the place you possibly can soak the fruit the place nobody will trouble it. Decide the dried fruits you like and be affected person – don’t peek at it, let it do its factor! Don’t fear about it spoiling. It’s bought sufficient sugar preserving it to final a lifetime.”

A box of Neale's Sweet N' Nice Black Cake

© Meals Community Canada
A field of Neale’s Candy N’ Good Black Cake

Should you’re less than the duty of baking your individual Black Cake, “there’s often one individual in the neighborhood making it,” says Barr. “It’s lovely realizing that this custom is rarely going to cease. Being in a Caribbean group, you possibly can at all times discover somebody that’s promoting Black Muffins.” Candy N’ Good has taken that custom one step additional – their Black Muffins are at the moment out there for supply throughout the Larger Toronto and Hamilton space and Durham Area each Thursday via to the vacations, with an order deadline of Tuesday that very same week. Beginning in February of 2022 (simply in time for Black Historical past Month), their truffles might be out there at choose Metro and Sobeys places throughout the nation, so no matter the place you’re, you possibly can choose one as much as attempt for your self. Simply don’t overlook so as to add an additional shot of rum on prime for good luck!

In search of extra vacation dessert concepts? This Gingerbread Spiced Pound Cake is ideal for vacation snacking!